The Psychology Kindergarten at the University of Stirling, in collaboration with the Dementia Services Development Centre and Town Break Stirling, ran an inter-generational project between April and May 2019. The sessions revolved around gardening, music and art.
There is a growing body of literature, which shows that intergenerational programmes are beneficial to both older adults and young children (Quinn & Blandon, 2017).
Our pilot study aimed to bring the children from the Kindergarten and people living with dementia together in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities.
For the artwork that the children and the adult participants produced in two sessions they were inspired by the work of Klee and Picasso. In the first session, images were created through printing with wooden blocks and sponge shapes. The children and adults were able to enjoy the tactile and sensory nature of the exercise. In the second session, the participants drew portraits using different colours of oil pastel.
The music sessions were carefully designed to include repertoire that was not only suitable for young children to sing (in terms of musical range, simple rhythms and vocabulary) but that was relevant to the adult participants as well. For that reason, the repertoire consisted mostly of traditional or popular songs that were likely to be known by the adults. Another consideration was to have repertoire that encouraged actions or movement, with the aim of encouraging active engagement in the session.
The sessions followed a format of: warming up body and voice (steady beat actions to music); hellos (including shaking hands and making eye contact with peers and participants); movement activities; use of simple percussion instruments and props; then winding down with some quiet listening time for relaxation and goodbye song. Props such as scarves and fabric were used to add visual stimulation and also to encourage interaction by participating as a group.
The gardening sessions revolved around potting some plants to refresh the DSDC garden within the Iris Murdoch Building. Both adults and children took part in a ‘smelling the jar’ activity in which they could use their senses to guess which herb each jar had.
From the preliminary results, there is evidence that the adult participants benefitted from the multi-sensory stimulation and the increased social and cognitive engagement. On the other hand, the kindergarten children were given the chance to engage in meaningful activities, explore their perceptions and ideas on ageing and experience a wider sense of community.
~ Federica Caruso, Kindergarten Manager